No bull but plenty of beef at Brahman Hills
A delightful getaway off the N3 to Durban on the Midlands Meander
We all know South Africa is a gorgeous country. But the best way to be reminded of its beauty is to be out in nature – whether you’re in the Free State, Limpopo or the Cape (not a lot to see in Gauteng, I’m afraid, especially compared to other provinces).
Any chance to escape the traffic, pollution and approximately five billion people shuffling around malls all day is welcome – and the absolutely stunning KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is a great option.
I was recently a guest at Brahman Hills, a hotel and spa on Old Curry’s Post Road in Mount West. It was my first time in the Midlands and almost as soon as I arrived I thought: “What the hell took you so long?”
Three days at Brahman was too short, but it was long enough to make me forget that Joburg even exists.What you need to know
Brahman Hills is right next to the N3 so you can just off-ramp and settle in. The hotel has 30 double rooms and 12 fully-serviced self-catering cottages.While the hotel rooms each have their own small, walled garden, if you enjoy a little privacy the self-catering cottages are your best bet. They can also accommodate different group sizes. Travelling solo or with your lover? Book the one-bedroom cottage. Going on a girls’ getaway? There are two- and three-bedroom options available. Is the whole family coming along? There are four-bedroom cottages.Our cottage was the three-bedroom Hartebeest, next door to the four-bedroom Eland cottage. So a single party can book both cottages for maximum space.
Most of the cottages, however, are hundreds of metres apart, so it’s like having faraway neighbours that you never see. Each cottage has an outdoor jacuzzi, DStv, fireplace and a private deck.
What to do and see
Being lazy is the best part of any holiday but it’s also great to have options should you feel like being out and about. Relaxation is necessary to any getaway – luckily there’s a wonderful spa on site.Enjoy some snacks and bubbles (or juice) before you get a full body massage in one of the rooms, which are painted blue and surrounded by a water feature to maximise the relaxation. End off your spa day with a mani and pedi.If you love long walks, there’s plenty of land to explore. Our three-hour Saturday morning hike, for instance, provided plenty of opportunities for Instagram-worthy pics to be taken. The hills are stunning but watch out for the Brahman cattle that freely roam the grounds. Stay out of their way and they will stay out of yours.Other animals you might encounter are cats. Okay, there are a lot of cats around the main hotel, so you will definitely encounter a few. Thankfully they keep to themselves – even a non-cat lover like me felt comfortable (and it’s not like there’s cat hair all over the place; there isn’t).
Driving to dinner one night (you can walk the grounds, but if you’re too lazy just jump in your car) we saw some zebra. But my favourite encounter was seeing a herd of steenbok right outside my bedroom door. Beautiful.Brahman Hills is not far from the Midlands Meander – a collection of five sightseeing routes that include places to shop, eat and chill. History? There’s the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick. Coffee snob? Head to Terbodore Coffee Roasters for good beans and gorgeous Great Danes (a few roam the grounds). Cheese lover? Then get your ass to Swissland Cheese (their smoked Isinyani cheese is to die for – and their ice-cream is heavenly). The Piggly Wiggly is a great stop – it has a variety of shops and eateries.Where to eat
The hotel has a few options if you don’t feel like leaving the grounds, such as the coffee lounge (aptly called Cappuccino).The Brahman Café serves breakfast (a la carte and buffet), lunch and dinner (both a la carte). The meat is delicious, but there are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.If you’re looking for a swanky place to dine, head to the hotel’s 89 On Copper. It’s a wine cellar that doubles as a restaurant and bar. The stone walls are complemented by touches of copper, plants and interesting light features – it’s a beautiful space. Even better is the food – the mushroom veloute and braised lamb shank are so delicious they’ll make your taste buds sing.Outside of Brahman Hills, you can (and really should) get something to eat from the Midlands Kitchen, a family-friendly and laid-back restaurant that’s a short walk away. Their menu covers everything from Indian to Italian dishes, the food is absolutely yummy, the portions are generous and the prices are good on the pocket. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch (6am to 4pm).
The nuts and bolts
Until September 30, the cottages are priced between R2,235 to R6,000 a night (or R750 to R1,118 per person). Hotel rooms are R1,875 each. Additional services are available (such as a romantic set-up or a snack pack). Visit www.brahmanhills.co.za for more info.